First openly-gay DUP councillor elected

Alison Bennington has been elected. Credit: UTV

The first openly-gay DUP councillor has been elected in Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.

Alison Bennington took her seat in the Glengormley district on the sixth count.

She attracted 1,053 votes and praised her supporters' "good, hard work and good teamwork".

Speaking to UTV, the DUP leader Arlene Foster says she is “delighted for her and delighted for all the candidates that are being returned”.

However she said the party’s stance against gay marriage has not changed.

“Alison put herself forward because she’s a committed unionist and that’s why she decided to put her name forward for the DUP, as many others did right across the country, and she was selected on that basis,” said Ms Foster.

“It sends out a message that the DUP is open to everyone who signs up to the policies of the DUP as Alison did.”

The DUP leader accepted that there are party members who would be “uncomfortable” with the decision to nominate Ms Bennington.

“I think it would be right to acknowledge that,” Arlene Foster continued, “but our policy in relation to same-sex marriage has not changed.

“We still believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, that has been our policy and will continue to be our policy.

“We’ve seen a really good election across NI for the DUP”.